Wars and Betweenness

Big Powers in Middle Europe, 1918-1945
$69.00 / €56.00 / £50.00
Publication date: 
236 pages

The region between the Baltic and the Black Sea was marked by a set of crises and conflicts in the 1920s and 1930s, demonstrating the diplomatic, military, economic or cultural engagement of France, Germany, Russia, Britain, Italy and Japan in this highly volatile region, and critically damaging the fragile post-Versailles political arrangement. The editors, in naming this region as "Middle Europe" seek to revive the symbolic geography of the time and accentuate its position, situated between Big Powers and two World Wars.
The ten case studies in this book combine traditional diplomatic history with a broader emphasis on the geopolitical aspects of Big-Power rivalry to understand the interwar period. The essays claim that the European Big Powers played a key role in regional affairs by keeping the local conflicts and national movements under control and by exploiting the region's natural resources and military dependencies, while at the same time strengthening their prestige through cultural penetration and the cultivation of client networks.
The authors, however, want to avoid the simplistic view that the Big Powers fully dominated the lesser players on the European stage. The relationship was indeed hierarchical, but the essays also reveal how the "small states" manipulated Big-Power disagreements, highlighting the limits of the latters' leverage throughout the 1920s and the 1930s.

20th century, Albania, Austria, Carpathia, Central Europe, Czechoslovakia, Diplomacy, Diplomatic history, East and West, Eastern Europe, Foreign relations, France, Germany, Great powers, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Petroleum industry and trade, Poland, Romania, Soviet Union, Transylvania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, World War I, World War II

List of Acronyms 

Aliaksandr Piahanau and Bojan Aleksov

Cluster One: Balancing (out) of Power 

1. The Anatomy of an Attempt to Create a Sphere of Influence: French Policy towards Central and Eastern Europe in the 1920s
Gusztáv Kecskés D.

2. Dealing with a “17 Stone Germany”: British Foreign Policy towards Danubian Europe, 1936–1939
Dragan Bakić

Cluster Two: Bordering

3. France and the Problem of the Borders of Poland, 1919–1923: The Province of Posen, Danzig, Upper Silesia, and Vilnius
Frédéric Dessberg

4. Transylvania and the Soviet Foreign Policy towards Romania and Hungary, 1941–1945
Iskander E. Magadeev

Cluster Three: Putting Out Fire with Gasoline

5. Establishing French Control over the Oil Fields of Eastern Galicia, 1918–1923
Sergey Ledenev

6. Diplomacy and Petroleum: Italy’s Fight for Albanian Oilfields, 1920–1925
Alessandro Sette

Cluster Four: Self-Determination? 

7. Breaking Up the Fortress on the Danube? German Policy towards Slovakia and Ruthenia, 1919–1933
David X. Noack

8. Italy’s Defense of Austrian Independence, 1918–1932
Anne-Sophie Nardelli-Malgrand

Cluster Five: Culturing and Perceiving 

9. Italian Cultural Diplomacy in Central Europe and the Balkans in 1918–1945
Stefano Santoro

10. Japanese Perceptions of Germany during the Interwar Period
Ian Nish

Notes on Contributors 

"As Bojan Aleksov and Aliaksandr Piahanau point out in their Introduction to this excellent study, their work provides new perspective on the interwar period in what is usually called central Europe. The very title of the book announces that perspective—War because the focus is on the years between World Wars One and Two but even more to the point, the concept of Betweenness—not just in terms of the years but also the notion that central Europe in this era is Middle Europecaught between the failed old empires and the revised big powers that emerged after 1918."
"In compiling these essays, the editors aimed to gain concrete case studies on how the post-war treaties failed in Central Europe. How, although filled with Wilsonian idealism, the realities and effects of the treaties lead to a continuation of the great power politics which has plagued Europe for centuries and directly lead to the Second World War, which officially was declared over the Polish Corridor and Danzig (now Gdansk), the existence of which was hypocrisy considering the idealistic goal of 'self-determination'"